I truly believe Zimmer has a list of players, in college and the pros, that he wants desperately. When you are the defensive coordinator, you have input, but not as much as the head coach, and certainly not as much as the GM. As such, every time he really wanted a player the HC and GM vetoed, he put that player on his list for when HE was in charge.
It's what I would have done, and I've heard quite a few coordinators do the same thing. With the extended (and frustratingly long) time he spent waiting for the HC position, you have to figure he has got quite a few names and schemes on that list.
We now get to see if it will work out, or blow up spectacularly. As you might have guessed, I expect us to surprise the shit out of a lot of teams next year.
Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self interest.
~Napoleon Bonaparte on Politics